BOOK REVIEW – TERRY PRATCHETT – DISCWORLD #25 THE TRUTH 2000 Random House Press.
One of the best, and most political Discworld books, with the once Medieval Ankh-Morpork city moving closer to becoming a modern civilization than ever with the arrival of the printing press.
William De Worde is a member of the gentry who has become estranged from his family for his ethical tendency to think for himself rather than giving in to peer group pressure, William has for some time been travelling and writing little newsletters to friends about the interesting things he sees, but the newsletters are expensive and slow to produce. Then one day, William literally runs into a printing press owned by a group of dwarfs who help him turn out his newsletter quickly and easily. When it receives a wider circulation than normal, the newspaper is invented.
William quickly finds himself in danger from many quarters. Information and language are power, and there are people who would rather not be written about, especially the revolutionaries trying to overthrow the Ankh Morpork Patrician by framing him for murder. William runs into the City Watch who fined his reporter curiosity interfering with their investigations, and the real killers know that he can potentially expose them.
Worse, there is competition from a rival paper that is willing to promote sensational lies as truth.
There are some highly inventive characters, especially Otto, the vampire whose photographs taken with a camera flash reduce him to dust every time. There is the imp who records every conversation and talks in small print. There is also the Kray twin like thugs, Mr. Pin & Mr. Tulip, who swear profusely and confuse curry powder and cocaine all too easily.
The real joy is the raising status of minor characters here; the paper sellers, like Foul Old Ron, the garbage dealer, Mr. King, and best of all, Gaspode The talking dog, the only witness to the mysterious events, a dog forced to go undercover as Deep Bone, a pun on the Watergate mole, Deep Throat.
Pratchett has much to say on the freedom of the press, truth and nonsense peddled as truth – A funny novel with something important to say.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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